"[E]conomics deals with goods and services from the point of view of the market, where willing buyer meets willing seller. The buyer is essentially a bargain hunter; he is not concerned with the origin of the goods or the conditions under which they have been produced. His sole concern is to obtain the best value for his money.
There is no probing into the depths of things, into the natural or social facts that lie behind them. In a sense, the market is the institutionalisation of individualism and non-responsibility. Neither buyer nor seller is responsible for anything but himself. It would be ‘uneconomic’ for a wealthy seller to reduce his prices to poor customers merely because they are in need, or for a wealthy buyer to pay an extra price merely because the supplier is poor. Equally, it would be ‘uneconomic’ for a buyer to give preference to home produced goods if imported goods are cheaper.
As regards the buyer’s non-responsibility, there is, significantly, one exception: the buyer must be careful not to buy stolen goods. This is a rule against which neither ignorance nor innocence counts as a defence and which can produce extraordinarily unjust and annoying results. It is
nevertheless required by the sanctity of private property, to which it testifies.
To be relieved of all responsibility except to oneself, means of course an enormous simplification of business, We can recognise that it is practical and need not be surprised that it is highly popular among businessmen. What may cause surprise is that it is also considered virtuous to make the maximum use of this freedom from responsibility. If a buyer refused a good bargain because he suspected that the cheapness of the goods in question stemmed from exploitation or other despicable practices (except theft), he would be open to the criticism of behaving ‘uneconomically’."
E. F. Schumacher | Small is beautiful